Russian President Vladimir Putin faced a barrage of tough questions after he met with Joe Biden yesterday. But one reporter stood out. US President Joe Biden and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin faced tough questions at their media conferences after yesterday’s summit in Geneva.
But one questioner stood out.
Rachel Scott, who works for the American ABC News, confronted Putin about his brutal, long-running crackdown on political dissent in Russia. “The list of your political opponents who are dead, imprisoned, or jailed is long,” Scott said. (Opposition leader) Alexei Navalny’s organization calls for free and fair elections (and) an end to corruption. Still, Russia has outlawed that organization, calling it extremist, and you have now prevented anyone who supports him from running for office.
So my question is, what are you so afraid of?
It wasn’t the only question the Russian President fielded about his record on human rights, but it was quickly the bluntest. Mr. Navalny, Putin’s most prominent political opponent, was immediately arrested and imprisoned when he returned to Russia earlier this year, having spent time abroad recovering from being poisoned with a Soviet-era nerve agent.
Putin began his answer by labelling his political opponents “foreign agents” and implying they were shills for the United States. He accused Mr. Navalny’s organization of calling for “mass disorder” across Russia and violence against the authorities. And he drew a comparison between political dissent in Russia and the protests against police brutality that erupted across the US following the murder of George Floyd last year.
“America, just recently, had very severe events after the killing of an African-American, and an entire movement developed known as Black Lives Matter,” said Putin.
“What we saw was disorder, destruction, violations of the law, et cetera. We feel sympathy for the United States, but we don’t want that to happen on our territory, and we’re doing our utmost in order to not allow it to happen.
Fear has nothing to do with anything.
Data shows 6 per cent of the Black Lives Matter protests involved “violence, clashes with police, vandalism, looting, or other destructive activity”. The other 94 percent of protests were peaceful. At this point, Putin tried to move on to another question. But Scott demanded the microphone back, and then hit him with a follow-up. You didn’t answer my question, sir. If all your political opponents are dead, in prison, poisoned, doesn’t that send a message that you do not want a fair political fight?” the reporter asked.
This time, Putin tried to draw an equivalence between the oppression of his political opponents and the charges laid against Americans who stormed Congress during the Capitol riot on January 6. He described the US insurrectionists, who were attempting to stop Congress from certifying the result of the 2020 presidential election, as people with “political demands.